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Cell phones are with us everywhere. We use them to send texts, surf the internet and call family and friends. They keep us ‘in touch’ but in real sense they are separating us as well; by way of distraction. Drivers use the cell phones while on the wheels and some drivers pay more attention to their phones texting more than they do to driving. Although no exact statistics are available on the phenomenon yet, the results can be fatal. The increasing number of injuries, accidents and fatalities are growing and it is attributed to this behavior; cell phone use while driving. In spite of all this statistics on fatalities and injuries, more and more people continue to use these electronic devices whilst driving. The question is why is it that despite the fact that people know it is risky to text while driving they go ahead and still do it. The paper will research on some of the probable reasons for this phenomenon despite people’s awareness on the fatal risks involved to use phones driving.
The idea that talking on the phone while driving is not safe is pretty obvious yet what happens in the brain while it juggles two tasks is not. According to a study by a University of South Carolina psychology researcher provides a better understanding on why talking and listening on a cell phone interferes with driving (and other visual tasks). Dr. Amit Almor found out that just planning to speak and speaking puts the brain’s resources more occupied than listening. Drivers were found to be four times distracted while preparing to speak or when speaking. These findings are relevant in light of the National Highway Safety Administration finding on car accidents. The researchers should now study the brain and how talking and listening on a cell phone interferes with driving a car. Sugano (2005, p.7) asserts that the Bureau used studies from 1995 to 2005 to prove that an association existed between cell phone use while operating a motor vehicle. It was found out that cell phone use while driving is statistically associated with an increased risk of vehicle collision.
Stutts et al, 2001, estimates that about 25 percent of all vehicle crashes are as a result from the driver being distracted or not being attentive. Regan, 2004, estimates that the incidence of distraction is yet to increase as more wireless gadgets enter the market. For some time now, the dangers of using mobile phones whilst driving has been debated and research has found that using the mobile phone while driving degrades driving performance significantly. An Australian study found out that 30 percent of the people surveyed had sent text messages in the past while driving despite being aware of the dangers of using a mobile phone while on the wheel (Hosking et al, 2006, p.1-3). The main reason for this behavior was given as coping with the pressure to stay in touch and not be ‘left behind’ while on transit.
Some disturbing results show that 80 percent of Americans use their cell phones while driving. What drives this huge percentage to use their phones while driving knowing that it is dangerous? The simple reason was given as the pressure to stay touch, according to a poll published in the Breitbart Issue. The survey was conducted by the National Insurance Company showed that 40 percent of American mobile phone owners between 16 and 30 years admitted to composing and sending texts messages while driving. Interestingly the survey also showed that an equal percentage has been hit or almost being hit by another driver using a cell phone. Bill Windsor of the NIC that was behind the survey was quoted saying that the current rules that make it socially unacceptable to not respond immediately to a call have made driving while distracted a common thing. The NHTSA said that out of the 115 road fatalities each day in the U.S., distracted driving causes 80 percent of them. Another new survey shows that 35 percent of drivers said that they have sent a text while driving while 67 percent admitted to talking over the phone while driving and a third agreed to doing it regularly. Although it is not the first survey to shed more light on distracted driving, the percentages are just but overwhelming; 95 percent of the drivers consider texting while driving as dangerous while 88 percent feel the same about talking on phone while driving.
According to Kevin Wehr who is an assistant professor of sociology at California State University, it is just pluralistic ignorance that makes people use a cell phone being aware that it can result to fatalities. People want to justify things because they simply think that they are better or different from others, which of course is not true. The social pressure to be always available makes people put the need ahead of their safety and that of others. Other people associate it and say that it is like ‘necessity’ to stay in touch even on the road. But this assertion is seen as common sense not being common to all.
Cell phone use is rapidly becoming part of our daily lives but concern has been raised that use of cell phones while driving threatens public safety. Some states have passed laws banning the use of phones while driving but people still continue to use phones obvious of the danger. The main reason given is that of keeping in touch and the pressure of internet life that makes people use the phone while driving. There is evidence that using a cell phone while driving poses risk to the driver and others and therefore there should be a prudent use of phones while driving. People should desist from using phones while driving as it causes distractions increasing the risk of collision.